Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Archive for April, 2011

The VP Saga Goes On

Posted by Reidar Visser on Saturday, 30 April 2011 23:01

The question of who will become the next vice-president(s) of Iraq is not particularly interesting in itself, since the office is largely powerless and without any clearly defined prerogatives. Nonetheless, the inability of Iraqi politicians to settle the issue and move on is interesting for what it says about the state of play in Iraqi parliamentary politics more broadly.

The latest development in the saga is a dramatic statement by the State of Law candidate for one of the posts, Khudayr al-Khuzaie, to the effect that the failure of parliament to approve him as one of three deputies would mean the collape of the all-Shiite National Alliance and could prompt an “explosion” in Iraqi politics. For good measure, Khuzaie added that “Baathists and enemies of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki” were behind the moves to prevent him from becoming one of the deputies.

The problem for Khuzaie is that many of those enemies evidently come from the other Shiite parties: His statement prompted angry reactions from Sadrists and ISCI alike, and even Sami al-Askari of the Daawa has suggested that Khuzaie should withdraw. Alternative approaches are also on the cards: The Kurds are promoting a bid to change the law on the presidential deputies in order to reserve it for a female Turkmen (this would clearly serve to entrench the concept of quota-sharing and consociational formulas for government in Iraq), whereas ISCI representative Ali al-Shubbar has even demanded that the top Shiite clergy must be consulted and their views respected on the issue! That sounds very much like a light version of the Iranian wilayat al-faqih concept.

The nomenclature of these debates is interesting in itself. ISCI representatives are complaining that “State of Law” is preventing progress on the VP question. Of course, State of Law is supposed to have merged with the other Shiite parties in an all-Shiite National Alliance, but it is clear that the subdivisions of the past remain as powerful as they used to in 2010. Those same subdivisions are also preventing progress on an issue that is altogether more important – finding suitable candidates for the three security ministries that still remain vacant – and serve as a constant reminder of the flimsy parliamentary basis of the new government that was formed back in December 2010.

Posted in Iraqi constitutional issues | 7 Comments »

Maliki-Nujayfi Showdown in Mosul

Posted by Reidar Visser on Sunday, 24 April 2011 22:45

In 2009, Mosul represented a promising trend for those hoping for rapprochement between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq. Today, the city exhibits some of the tensions that could potentially create instability in the country unless more is done to create a solid parliamentary foundation for the second Maliki government.

Back in 2009, local politicians in Mosul opted to work with the Maliki government in terms of challenging what they saw as Kurdish encroachments on the northern parts of the Nineveh governorate. In calling for assistance from Baghdad, the Sunnis of Mosul were requesting the help of a Shiite-dominated army with the declared aim of restoring the territorial integrity of their province. In terms of national reconciliation, it arguably represented one of the more significant steps taken since 2003.

Today, something vastly different is taking place. A few days ago, a new police commander for Mosul, Mahdi Sabih al-Gharawi, was appointed by the interior ministry in Baghdad. This prompted immediate protests by the local council, and yesterday it adopted a consensus motion that expressed disapproval of the actions of the Baghdad government and instead appointed a previous deputy commander as temporary chief of police. Athil al-Nujayfi, the brother of parliament speaker Usama al-Nujayfi of Iraqiyya, has been leading the protests against Gharawi.

The subtext of the drama is as follows. The local councils complains that the newly appointed police chief is “not from the governorate.” (He comes from Shiite-majority Wasit.) Moreover, if one looks back at Gharawi’s past career at the interior ministry, it becomes clear that he was frequently accused of  acts of torture and association with Shiite death squads during the dark days of sectarian violence in 2006. Against that backdrop, his appointment to Nineveh in the current climate comes across as particularly provocative.

Additionally, the legal procedures seem to have been subverted in this appointment too. It is unclear how Gharawi even became a candidate, since the provincial powers law of 2008 specifies a procedure in which the governor is to come up with 5 candidates, the governorate council limits the field to three and then the ministry in Bagdhad selects one. Today, the head of the security committee in Nineveh indicates that they have not been involved in selecting three suitable candidates so far.

Of course, the ministry of interior – which appears to have orchestrated these developments so far – is currently under the control of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who technically remains the deputy minister of interior. Waiting in the wings is probably Adnan al-Asadi, another Daawa operative who so far has been most successful in attracting support within the all-Shiite National Alliance as a prospective minister of interior. For these reasons, the Mosul appointment could serve as a warning about tendencies that may even grow stronger in the months and years to come. Demonstrations in favour of a US withdrawal have gained momentum in Nineveh lately, and the monster agenda recently adopted for next week’s parliament includes an item called the “law on the withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq”. In other words, absent any voices of moderation in the last minute, it seems as if both the central government and the people of Mosul are prepared to close their eyes and go ahead with requesting a full US withdrawal according to the SOFA – all in the name of an Iraqi nationalism that is  in deep trouble in the real world of Nineveh politics.

Posted in Iraqi nationalism, Kirkuk and Disputed Territories, Uncategorized, US policy in Iraq: Leverage issues | 18 Comments »

A Daawa-ISCI Alliance Gives Basra a New Governor

Posted by Reidar Visser on Thursday, 21 April 2011 18:30

The Iraqi parliament appears to be in a stalemate. Just when rapprochement is needed to get all-important security ministers confirmed, the biggest blocs are moving further apart. Shiite Islamists close to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki are hinting at the possible replacement of the parliamentary speaker, Usama al-Nujayfi of Iraqiyya, even though he could potentially be Maliki’s most promising ally for getting things done in parliament. Iraqiyya and most other parties are irritated by the insistence of Maliki to keep Khudayr al-Khuzai as a candidate in an unnecessary and time-consuming contest over three vice-presidencies. Parliament will not meet again until 26 April; as of today, no proper agenda for that meeting has been fixed.

Maybe developments in the provinces can provide a better indication of which way the winds of Iraqi politics are blowing? Basra has just got a new governor after the previous one, Shaltagh Abbud of Maliki’s State of Law alliance, was forced out after popular protests. But just like his predecessor, the new man in charge of provincial government in Basra, Khalaf Abd al-Samad, belongs to Maliki’s bloc. His bio is quite similar to other Daawa operatives with a past in exile: Born in Basra in 1952, he joined the Daawa in the late 1960s and got into conflict with the regime in the 1980s and went into exile. He completed his education in agricultural science at the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands in the 1990s and then returned to Iraq after 2003.

The political dynamics behind his appointment are fairly uncomplicated. Maliki’s State of Law alliance won a watershed victory in Basra back in January 2009 with some 20 seats. Their share of seats has since shrunk somewhat to around 18 as the result of defections, and in order to secure victory for Abd al-Samad as the new governor, State of Law formed a new coalition with at least three members of ISCI/Badr some weeks ago. It was this coalition that recently voted for Abd al-Samad as the new governor.

It is noteworthy that there was an apparent attempt to challenge Abd al-Samad by Jabbar Amin of Hizb al-Daawa (Tanzim al-Iraq), also from State of Law. Some weeks ago, Amin – who in 2010 was at the forefront of a bid to revive the Basra regionalist project – reached out to independents, Sunnis and Christians in a bid to create a cross-sectarian alliance that would challenge Maliki’s preferred candidate. In the end, Amin failed, but he did get 14 votes against 19 for Abd al-Samad.

Amin’s ability to at least create problems for Abd al-Samad suggests that Maliki is not completely immune to challenges even in the provinces that should be a cakewalk for him as far as the arithmetic of deputy affiliations is concerned. His reliance on an alliance with ISCI in this case creates a contrast with patterns currently seen at the national level, but it seems nonetheless significant as an indicator of State of Law’s behaviour in a context when it needs to secure a majority for a specific vote. It will be impossible for Maliki to postpone a similarly decisive vote in parliament on the security ministries for much longer.

Posted in Basra and southern regionalism, UIA dynamics | 10 Comments »

Still No Vice-Presidents after State of Law Withdrawal from Parliament

Posted by Reidar Visser on Thursday, 14 April 2011 18:18

The saga goes on: Another attempt at electing three deputies for Iraq’s President Jalal Talabani failed in parliament today after the bloc of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki withdrew from the session and thereby prevented a quorum.

Reportedly, the reason for the withdrawal of State of Law was doubt concerning the sincerity of rest of parliament with respect to approving the State of Law candidate to fill one of the three positions, Khudayr al-Khuzai, after a previous compromise proposal of expanding the number of deputies to four thankfully went nowhere. Apparently their fear was that the two other candidates (Adel Abd al-Mahdi of ISCI and Tareq al-Hashemi of Iraqiyya) would be approved and that Khuzai would be left out.

It should be stressed that as far as the legal aspect is concerned, State of Law seems to be right in insisting on a vote on the deputies in a single batch. The law on the deputies of the president simply refers to a nomination (tarshih) in the singular, which would require a minimum of consensus beforehand. A complicating factor has been added because of an alleged legal challenge by Fakhri Karim, an adviser to President Jalal Talabani, against Tareq al-Hashemi because of his use of the title of vice-president in the period after the end of the presidency council in November 2010. Whereas it is possible to appreciate the legal aspects of that challenge, it seems strange that it should come from someone so close to Talabani: According to another of the vice-presidential candidates, Adel Abd al-Mahdi, Talabani had personally ordered his deputies from the presidency council to continue as interim deputies for him in his new position as ordinary president of Iraq! (Some reports actually say the legal challenge by Karim is directed against two of the deputies, in which case one would assume that the other one is Adel Abd al-Mahdi, who has done the same thing as Hashemi in terms of continuing to use his vice-presidential title.)

The politics of this is as follows. There appears to be some rapprochement between Iraqiyya, ISCI and also the Sadrists in terms of challenging the State of Law bloc on the issue of the vice-presidency. (Importantly, there are reports that the Sadrists, too, opposed Khuzai.) However, this movement is clearly not strong enough for the moment to push through its will in parliament. The withdrawal of State of Law was sufficient to deprive parliament of a quorum. Also, one suspects that in the reported actions of Fakhri Karim against one or two deputy candidates, the old alliance between the Kurds and Maliki could once more be resurging. True, the legal challenge against Hashemi and/or Abd al-Mahdi was mounted by Karim as a private citizen, but it seems unlikely that it should come from someone as close to Talabani unless it had been agreed with him. This is important because the Kurds have been blowing hot and cold over Maliki ever since his new government was passed in December 2010, and at one point seemed ready to join forces with the emerging “opposition” of ISCI and pro-Allawi elements in Iraqiyya. Other voices critical of the attempt to have a vote today include Salim al-Jibburi of the Wasat bloc and the old Tawafuq, which represented Sunni interests in the previous parliament.

Importantly, State of Law today criticised the parliamentary speaker, Usama al-Nujayfi, for his management of the session in parliament and its ultimate breakdown. This, along with statements critical of Maliki by Nujayfi as well as Salih al-Mutlak over the past week, indicates that any rapprochement between Maliki and Nujayfi is still a long way off. Once more, Maliki seems forced to rely on a constellation of parties who will have great difficulty in getting anything passed in parliament: His own State of Law, the Kurds, Wasat and maybe White Iraqiyya. Together, they might perhaps be able to muster a majority of 163 votes in parliament, but only on a good day, and only just.

Posted in Iraq's 2010 parliamentary election, Iraqi constitutional issues | 14 Comments »

Iraq and Libya: Parallels and Non-Parallels

Posted by Reidar Visser on Wednesday, 6 April 2011 23:06

Subsequent to the start of the Iraq War om 2003, Western analysts spent a prodigious amount of time and energy debating an “alternative” Iraq policy that never had any chance of succeeding in the real world and which therefore served as a major distraction in the overall discussion of policy options: A three-way soft partition of the country. Today, with the sudden upsurge of Western interest in Libya – and with a general explosion of simplistic punditry focusing  on the ethno-sectarian geography of the broader Middle East – it is only a question of time before think tankers in the West will discover certain tripartite patterns in Libyan history, too, and use them as a basis for discussions of possible ways forward. However, even a cursory and preliminary reading of Libya’s history should make it possible to preempt at least some of the scenarios that seem destined to appear in future discussions.

Regular readers of this column will be familiar with the main elements in an historian’s refutation of the soft-partition option for Iraq. Briefly, the soft partition scheme as it emerged in the post-2003 period ignored at least three important historical facts: 1. The three-way division of Iraq in late Ottoman times did not follow ethno-sectarian lines (Baghdad had most Shiites and Mosul was mixed) and was never complete (Baghdad served as a proto-capital for all three provinces in certain spheres of administration including military and judicial affairs); 2. The three-way partition had existed for some thirty years only (circa 1880-1914) before which there were long periods of administrative unity in a single province (Baghdad); 3. Far from being an “artificial” term, the concept of “Iraq” was in fact frequently employed by the local population, Ottoman administrators and foreigners alike in the nineteenth century. In sum, then, the post-2003 soft-partition scheme for Iraq had no historical basis, meaning that on top of the numerous ethical and practical considerations involved in its implementation, it seemed unlikely to find any popular resonance even if an attempt had been made to push it through.

When it comes to Libya, unlike Iraq, the country actually does have a history of twentieth-century federalism as well as complete territorial fragmentation. During the first years after independence, from 1951 to 1963, Libya had a federal state structure which among other things featured extensive taxation powers for the three federal regions (Benghazi in the east, Tripoli in the centre-north and Fezzan in the south). That tripartite federal structure, in turn, was based on complete administrative separation in the 1940s, when developments in the Second World War and the ouster of the Italians in 1942 had led to the creation of three separate zones of occupation with their own administrations. Although the ethno-sectarian geography of these lands did not correlate perfectly with the tripartite administrative configuration, Benghazi stood somewhat out thanks to a strongly influential puritan Sufi movement (the Sanusiyya), whereas non-Arab (particularly Berber) influences were said to be somewhat stronger in the west and the south. In contrast to the situation in Libya, Iraq remained a centralised state from the formal inception of the monarchy in 1921 until the beginnings of experiments with Kurdish autonomy in the 1970s.

On the other hand, though, if we go further back in history, the parallels between Iraq and Libya are quite striking. Just like the territory of modern-day Iraq was administratively unified for a great deal in the late 1700s and the early 1800s, a political entity almost perfectly coterminous with the modern state of Libya existed in the same period: The Barbary state of Tripoli. Contemporary accounts of North Africa in the early nineteenth century almost invariably focus on four dominant political entities in the region: Morocco, Alger, Tunis and Tripoli. Headed by the Albanian Karamanlis – a group of military officers that broke with the Ottomans and as such another parallel to Iraq where the Georgian mamelukes reigned – the Tripoli state engaged in lucrative piracy activities in the Mediterranean that enabled it to subjugate, albeit tenuously, the territory to the south and east of Tripoli (incidentally, those piracies also brought them into conflict with the United States). After the Ottoman reconquista in 1835 (the timing being another Iraq parallel) that same geographical area remained mostly unified as a single vilayet until the 1880s. At that point, Cyrenaica was definitively separated as a distinctive unit. By way of contrast, Iraq oscillated between unified rule and various subdivision formulas throughout the nineteenth century.

Unlike Iraq, there is less continuity as far as nomenclature is concerned in the case of Libya. Rather than using the name “Libya”, many contemporary sources simply referred to these lands as Trablus al-Gharb or “Tripoli of the West”, i.e. to distinguish it from the “eastern”/Syrian Tripoli in what is Lebanon today. For example, despite the formal differentiation in the late Ottoman period between the vilayet of Tripoli and the special administrative district of Benghazi, the Ottoman historian Mahmud Naci referred to Benghazi as “part of Tripoli” in his discussion of the Sanusiyya. Similarly, an early Libyan historian, Ahmad Mahmud, referred to the “Cyrenaican desert of Tripoli” as the birthplace of Umar al-Mukhtar (who would go on to become a famous Libyan nationalist) and to Fezzan as “an oasis that belongs to Tripoli”. Conversely, in the case of Iraq, the term “Iraq” appears far more frequently in sources from the nineteenth century and was often used interchangeably with the greater Baghdad vilayet. In the Libyan case, then, it seems clear that the Italian occupation from 1912 onwards was instrumental in introducing a new term for referring to the country, even though also the Italian administration for some years featured administrative differentiation between Tripoli and Cyrenaica. Ultimately, the Italians opted to organise the entire country in four perfetturas dependent upon Tripoli, meaning that centripetal forces once more came to the fore.

Exactly as in the case of Iraq, Libyan historiography does include a trend that has been dismissive about the whole idea of continuity from the old mameluke days to the era of the modern state. But whereas constructivist narratives of Iraqi history mostly consist of the unempirical musings of armchair commentators who have never held an actual Ottoman document in their hands, when it comes to Libya there are a number of eloquent, well-researched and indigenous accounts of the creation of the modern state that in various ways question the paradigm of Tripoli as the natural focus of a centralised state incorporating Fezzan and Cyrenaica. By way of example, Ali Abdullatif Ahmida has written a largely constructivist version of the emergence of the modern Libyan state in which he goes far in embracing an “artificiality” paradigm. In particular, in order to counterbalance Tripoli-centric narratives, Ahmida accords prominence to a small political entity in the far south of the country around Fezzan: The state of Awlad Muhammad which existed between the sixteenth and the eighteenth centuries. A similar revisionist take can be seen in the work of Muhammad Mustafa Bazamah, which focuses on Cyrenaica or Barqa as it is usually called in Arabic.

Ahmida’s and Bazamah’s contributions come across as fresh challenges against teleological versions of Libya’s modern history. Nonetheless, they can perhaps themselves be challenged for magnifying the importance of the south and the east, which after all were dwarfed by Tripoli in terms of population numbers: Around the time of formal unification, Tripolitania had around 700,000 inhabitants; Cyrenaica, 300,000; Fezzan, 60,000. In accounts from the early 1950s it is actually French protestations against the amalgamation of the three occupation zones into a single state that loom largest in the sources. “Libya is an artificial and sterile country”, declared pro-imperial forces in Paris in December 1949, exactly at the juncture when the idea of formal Libyan unification was beginning to gain traction in international circles.

This point in turn relates to what is perhaps the greatest contrast between Iraq and Libya as far as territorial stability is concerned: Whereas both Tripoli and Baghdad presented a certain degree of continuity as proto-capitals for greater Libyan and Iraqi regions between the 1700s and the 1900s, Libya experienced a unique degree of both informal and formal territorial fragmentation during the first half of the twentieth century – above all as the result of different legacies of interaction with foreign, imperial powers in different regions of the country. Firstly, Sanusi resistance against the Italians provided for anti-colonial sentiment that translated into regional patterns: Cyrenaica, anti-Italian; Tripolitania, less so. Later, as the result of developments in the Second World War, formal fragmentation ensued in the shape of three different zones of occupation: Fezzan (French), Tripolitania (British), and Cyrenaica (separated from Tripoli and reconstituted as a single entity under the British, with special guarantees for future independence).

For a few years after 1945 – an interlude caused first and foremost by procrastination in the international community regarding the disposal of the Italian colonies generally – it seemed likely that Fezzan would become attached to other French colonial possessions in North Africa; that Cyrenaica might come under some kind of British tutelage; and that Tripolitania might possibly even revert to Italian overlordship. Despite growing agitation in favour of unity among the Libyans themselves, it was probably only a certain anti-imperialist surge in the newly founded United Nations as well as a general preference in London for more informal and economic forms of empire that eventually consecrated the formula that would prevail: The unification of all three zones of occupation in the single kingdom of Libya.

During this process, what happened to the Sanusiyya-dominated Cyrenaica presents certain interesting parallels – and non-parallels as well – to the fate of Kurdish independence dreams after the First World War, which were basically crushed between the treaties of Sevres in 1920 and Lausanne in 1923. In the 1940s, despite some common cooperation against the Italians in the 1920s, there was much to suggest that a degree of apartness had developed between Cyrenaica and Tripolitania as the result of different trajectories during the years of Italian rule, and with the Cyrenaicans in particular increasingly warming up to the prospect of having some kind of separate political entity with a privileged connection to the British Empire. For example, a representation by Umar Mansur in 1945 called for Cyrenaica to become “an independent country” under Sayyid Idris, the Sanusi leader. Unlike the Kurds in Iraq, however – and despite the preferences of the numerically dominant Tripolitanians for some kind of more tightly integrated state – the Cyrenaicans managed to provide national leadership (King Idris) once the idea of a unified Libya gained international support. They went on to dominate the federation that was subsequently formed and provided their own input to the terms of that federation, even though there were also external influences at work including UN “experts” (in a parallel to post-2003 Iraq, one of them was a Dutchman, Adrian Pelt). Of course, in the case of Iraq after the First World War, the monarch – Faisal I – was imported from Hijaz and a centralist formula of government adopted.

In Libya, there generally seem to have been more cross-cutting cleavages than in Iraq. Maybe some Cyrenaicans appeared parochial at times, but after all much of their Sanusi heritage was pan-Islamist rather than regionalist, stretching into Sudan and parts of the Sahara. Historically and geographically, Cyrenaica was actually closest to the heart of the Arab world and centres like Cairo, with some authorities even claiming that the grand division line between the eastern and western parts of the Arab world – Machrek and Maghreb – cut Libya in two, with Cyrenaica belonging to the Machrek and Tripoli to the Maghreb. Also , it seems that Cairo-educated young men of Cyrenaica played a key role in converting Sayyid Idris from a narrow Cyrenaica-oriented approach to a broader one focused on all of Libya, and may have played a role when the king first began considering a move from a federal to a unitary formula of government in the mid-1950s (this was eventually achieved in 1963, subsequent to the discovery of oil in 1959). These are all factors that would seem to put the Cyrenaicans in a different position in Libya than what the Kurds experienced in Iraq, the superficial similarities of the size of the communities and the degree of territorial concentration notwithstanding.

On the balance, then, one senses that despite the upheavals of the twentieth century – and the efforts of erudite and articulate scholars in the constructivist tradition – the vision of a centralised state with Tripoli as its capital eventually prevailed in twentieth-century Libya, much like what happened to Baghdad in Iraq. Today, the regionally entrenched opposition in Benghazi appears to be going out of its way to emphasise its adherence to the idea of Tripoli as the undisputed capital of Libya, although it should perhaps be remembered that the monarchy flag used by these opponents of Gadhafi is also originally a federalism flag. But, as the Second World War showed, too much external intervention can easily disturb local equilibriums and propel artificial schemes to the forefront. Left to its own, Libya might well eventually gravitate towards Tripoli in one way or another, but with foreign intervention, the question is a lot more open. It should be remembered that the UN Security Council adopted for Libya provides international powers with a much bigger toolbox than what Western powers had in Iraq in the 1990s, when the no-fly-zone had no legal basis (except a fictional exegesis of UNSC 688) and when suggestions of a no-drive-zone was never on the table in a serious way (even though the Clinton administration seemed to be trying to create one in 1996). Accordingly, as happened during the Second World War, Libya may in the future once more come to experience formal territorial fragmentation and the emergence of enclaves of the kind one would otherwise only expect in settings where there are more enduring legacies of truly indigenous separatist schemes, like Yemen.

Posted in Federalism in the Middle East, Iraq - regionalism - general, Iraqi nationalism, Sectarian master narrative | 31 Comments »

A Sadrist Minister of Planning

Posted by Reidar Visser on Tuesday, 5 April 2011 0:55

The second Maliki government is gradually coming closer to completion. Yesterday, the Iraqi parliament confirmed the candidate for the planning ministry: Ali Yusuf Abd al-Nabi, a Sadrist.

The new minister has an interesting CV. Born in 1969 in Najaf, he acquired an education in law in the 1990s in the schools and universities of Baathist Iraq. He completed his doctorate at the University of Baghdad in 1998.

Subsequently, Ali Yusuf Abd al-Nabi apparently went into exile, and worked in Libya from 2002 to 2006. He then returned to Iraq to become dean at the Kufa University. His publications are on a multitude of subjects, ranging from maritime law to human rights issues.

In other developments, parliament rejected a proposal by 50 plus deputies to vote on the presidential deputies in a single batch. Coming so soon after the withdrawal of the candidature of Adel Abd al-Mahdi of ISCI, one might hypothesise that this was an initiative by competitors in State of Law to force through a vote that would confirm Khudayr al-Khuzai, their own disputed candidate for one of the three deputy positions, before ISCI had made any counter-move. Today, Basim al-Awwadi, an adviser to Ammar al-Hakim of ISCI, indicated that Abd al-Mahdi remained a candidate after all.

With respect to the all-important security ministries, there is however no progress. Parliament speaker Usama al-Nujayfi yesterday told the assembly that the two candidates proposed by Prime Minister Nuri a-Maliki, Khalid al-Ubaydi for defence and Ibrahim al-Lami for interior, had been told by the de-Baathification committee that they were unfit to run for office and that new candidates were expected from the prime minister. At the same time, parliament is spending considerable time on what appears to be an inflation of declarations of past “genocides”. That Halabja should fall into this category seemed fair enough, but the subsequent initiative of formally declaring the Falluja battle of 2004 as genocide seemed calculated as a check-mate manouevre directed against Ayad Allawi, who was prime minister at the time. Yesterday, the plight of the Fayli Kurds and the question of genocide in their case was debated.

Parliament will not meet again until 12 April.

Posted in Iraq's 2010 parliamentary election, Iraqi constitutional issues | 2 Comments »